You should limit contact with other people now if you want to keep relatives safe at Christmas

You should limit your contact with other people from today (15 Dec) if you plan on seeing elderly relatives over the Christmas period, according to the UK Health Secretary.

Matt Hancock said that people should “act well within” the rules during the period of relaxed restrictions, in order to prevent the virus spreading.

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Speaking at a government press briefing last night, he said, “The best thing you can do if you want to see elderly relatives at Christmas is to be extremely careful now about who you see.”

As cases are still rising nationally, largely driven by increased spread in London and the South East of England, many are questioning whether the period of relaxed restrictions should be scrapped.

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood warned that “letting down our guard for five days during Christmas could be very dangerous indeed.”

Chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, warned that people should be “very, very careful,” particularly around vulnerable relatives.

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What are the rules for Christmas?

Rules under the government's Christmas bubbles policy mean that up to three households can mix between 23 and 27 December, with no formal requirement to self-isolate in preparation.

Concerns have been raised over the knock-on effects of the Christmas period, with Professor Whitty warning that January and February (when the NHS typically struggles to cope with demand anyway) could be “extremely difficult.”

Are the restrictions too lax?

Government ministers have rejected suggestions that the easing of restrictions over Christmas amounts to a temporary “Tier zero.”

Speaking to Sky News, Treasury Minister Steve Barclay said the government is not scrapping the tiering system for five days, or “letting people loose.”

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He said, “What we are saying is, within the family three households can come together. That’s the timit of the flexibility being offered. I think it’s been mischaracterised as, almost, a Tier zero, that we are scrapping restrictions in their entirety. That is not the case.”